Thursday, November 18, 2010

myPod: An-Az


[myPod is an attempt to edit down my CD collection as I import my music on to my brand new 160 GB iPod.]

Anamanaguchi

An 8-bit tribute compilation to Weezer first introduced me to the wonders of Anamanaguchi, an NYC chiptune/Nintendocore band. That’s right, they write songs that sound like video game music from yesteryear. It’s pretty awesome. Dawn Metropolis came my way not long after thanks to my gig as a staff writer for Punknews.org. These songs are so propulsive and fun, just like video games! Joy!

Verdict: Keep.

Ancestor


Ah, my first entry on local bands. Technical hardcore act Prevail eventually morphed into Ancestor (Although they’ll always be Prevail to me). The first EP under the new moniker, Koalacaust, continued the animal puns of Pandamonium¸ but the production is a lot better. Cetus drummer Matt Buckley is secretly one of my favorite producers – dude knows how to record metal. Allude to Illusion followed in 2009, with even more butt-kicking thrashers in tow. I love that one of the heaviest bands in my collection consist of some of the goofiest, nicest dudes I know.

Adam Ant


I have a soft spot for Adam and The Ants/Adam Ant. Homeboy got his whole band stolen by Sex Pistols founder/manager Malcolm McLaren, but he still managed to consistently drop catchy new wave singles for about five years or so during the ’80s. While I’ve picked up a few Ant albums on vinyl, The Essential Adam Ant contains all I need on CD – “Goody Two Shoes,” “Kings of the Wild Frontier,” and my personal favorite, “Stand and Deliver.” The tribal drumming and hipster British slang make for an infectious batch of songs.

Verdict: Keep.



Anti-Flag


Anti-Flag takes the most amount of shit from people who probably agree with their politics. These Pennsylvania punks deal in rabble-rousing anthems, and while they aren’t always graceful or specific, there’s an important niche for songs that are blunt both musically and lyricially. There’s something very effective in songs like “No Borders, No Nations,” a song critical of America’s policies at home and abroad released just a year after the 9/11 attacks. I remember actually being shocked the first time I heard the lines “And you still look me in the eye / And you still wonder why / Your cities fucking burn.” Later on I found out that band actually had a sense of humor on tunes like “Right On” and “This is Not a Crass Song,” which makes A New Kind of Humor that much better. Their work during the new millennium weaned out the jokes (and pretty much anything else that didn’t take shots at the system), which is why I don’t have the band’s complete discography. A little bit of Anti-Flag goes a long way, but I’m stoked to own a couple of records from these Clash ‘n’ Billy Bragg fans.

Verdict: Keep.

The Aquabats


Begun as a joke ska band about superheroes and sci-fi and all things awesome, The Aquabats eventually morphed into a joke synth-punk band about the exact same things. All of their song titles end in exclamation points. Topics include midget pirates, mechanical apes, snake attacks, and of course the very secret origins of The Aquabats themselves. A part of me wants to buy an Aquabats uniform, and all of my reasons come down to “That would be fun.” The Fury of The Aquabats and Charge!! put a smile on my face every time I put them in my stereo.

Verdict: Keep!

Arcade
Fire

I was all set to ignore The Suburbs, Arcade Fire’s new album, but this project reminded me that I actually love this band. I mean, Funeral has always been one of my favorites; an immaculately arranged collection of love songs to dead family members. But I’ve recently found myself humming along with the orchestral indie tracks of Arcade Fire and Neon Bible as well. “No Cars Go,” which appears on both of those albums, remains one of their best songs, a rabble-rousing rocker packed with childlike glee yet operatic movements. Plenty of indie bands have moved in on Arcade Fire’s sound, but few can match that intensity.

Verdict: Keep.



Armalite


Super awesome Philadelphia pop-punk/hardcore from Dr. Dan Yemin, Atom Goren, Mike McKee, and Jeff Ziga. In my world, this is the penultimate super group. I’m confident I could listen only to “Dan’s Hands Melt” for the rest of my life, happily.

Verdict: Keep.

Tim Armstrong


A Poet’s Life came out when I was feeling burned out on all things Rancid. I mean, I still loved the classic albums, but the band members had dropped some questionable records along the way – Transplants, Lars Frederiksen and The Bastards’ Viking. The promotional videos for Poet’s Life were shot in the same frustratingly pixilated black and white that Armstrong favors; plus the title is pretty stupid. But when my buddy Eric put it on during a road trip, I learned that Armstrong is still one of the preeminent songwriters in America. Backed by The Aggrolites, Armstrong gets to play around with 33 minutes of reggae ‘n’ ska. He’s always been into this music, but this is the first time he’s been able to separate it from Rancid’s punk leanings. It works.

Verdict: Keep.

Atom and His Package


Atom Goren is a rather sarcastic Jewish punk rocker who loves cheap-o electronic music (hereafter referrer to as his Package). The music isn’t too different structurally from what he achieved with Armalite, just a lot more techno-ish. Which just means his music is a different kind of catchy. Redefining Music features three Mountain Goats covers, so of course I love it. Homeboy borrows a lot for his music, but he’s always upfront about it and he packs his songs with so much sociopolitical imagery that it works out.

Verdict: Keep.



At the Drive-In


The older I get, the harder it is for me to put up with Omar A. Rodrigeuz and Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s shit. At this point, the only At the Drive-In album I can still get behind is the monstrous-sounding Relationship of Command. I have no idea what any of the lyrics mean (“Send transmission from the one armed scissor,” anyone?), but the guitars are so massive and the drums so propulsive that it doesn’t matter. This record drips so much passion and intensity that I have to rock the heck out.

Verdict: Keep.

Auntie Christ


X’s Exene Cervenka and DJ Bonebrake plus Rancid’s Matt Freeman. Sounds good, right? While Auntie Christ’s one-off album Life Could Be a Dream doesn’t quite best the members’ main bands, it’s still a stellar batch of straightforward ’70s-style punk rock. Word on the street is Bonebrake is playing in Freeman’s other side project, Devils Brigade, which I’m pretty stoked on. Man, I love these guys (and gal) so much.

Verdict: Keep.

Autolux


Autolux dropped an amazing shoegaze recorded entitled Future Perfect back in 2004. Their tour with Secret Machines was equally awesome. The music was so dang noisy yet hypnotic and groovy. Then they just kinda disappeared for a while. Listening to Future Perfect made feel like a dick for not attending their semi-recent show at Johnny Brenda’s. So it goes; can’t wait for their belated sophomore album.

Verdict: Keep.



Avail


While I saw them in concert during their heyday, it wasn’t until well after Avail went on indefinite hiatus (like eight years and counting…) that I started to really appreciate their music. I interned for the Philadelphia branch of City Paper my last semester of college, and it was there that I picked up a promo copy of 4 A.M. Friday, arguably Avail’s best album. I was hooked on the rapid fire music, big hooks, and personal lyrics. Avail wrote about everything that mattered to them, which mean Virginia politics, but also their relationships and personal problems. Hell, sometimes they’d play country and bebop songs simply because they could. I’m not too keen on their first album, but everything since that seems to be gold. Still gotta pick up Dixie, though.

Verdict: Keep/Expand on, minus ­­­Satiate.

Avoid One Thing


A side project for Mighty Mighty Bosstones bassist Joe Gittleman, Avoid One Thing dropped an awfully catchy self-titled debut in 2002. They put out one more album before fading away, but that first record still gets me pumped. It’s just a really catchy pop rock record, uncomplicated and fun.

Verdict: Keep.

NEXT TIME: B is for... New Jersey mooks, Mike Bahooski, and B-B-B-BOWIE.

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